Dear Amy: I have a 3-year-old son. His father and I separated when he was a baby, but we have a good co-parenting relationship. We’ve never had any problems with this arrangement. My son sees his father nearly every day, and this is how we both like it.
The problem is this: I have an immune deficiency and mild asthma. Worrying about the COVID-19 pandemic, I do not want to leave my young son without a mother.
I’m trying to take every precaution against contracting the virus, including using lots of hand sanitizer, and cleaning anything (like groceries) that comes into my house.
My ex has a very robust immune system. He is not worried about the coronavirus. He is working and going out for groceries. He is not using hand sanitizer or cleaning frequently touched surfaces, like his car steering wheel or cellphone.
While he is physically distancing and washing his hands a bit more than usual, I don’t feel like this is enough, given my immune-compromised situation. If he gets the virus, he is likely to have mild symptoms or be asymptomatic. I’m afraid he will catch the virus and give it to my son, who will pass it to me. I’ve tried talking to him about this, but he is not receptive. I don’t know what to do.
What is your advice? — Worried Mom
Dear Worried: Parents are supposed to have the capacity to forgo their immediate impulses for the sake of their children. The best way to prevent this illness is to avoid exposure. The best way for your son to have both parents in his life, long into the future — is to avoid exposure. You and your ex should connect with your son’s pediatrician — together, and immediately — (through video conferencing) to ask for a physician’s advice.
Your boy travels between parents nearly every day. One obvious idea would be for these visits to be temporarily stopped, or cut down — temporarily, for everyone’s safety (including his, of course).
If your ex would agree to cut these visits to even three times a week, this would limit the number of possible exposures between households. You should also seriously discuss the reality and possibility of one parent (you or him) NOT having your son with you, perhaps for the next month, and then negotiating ways to make up the difference after the risk has passed.
The CDC suggests that children over the age of two should wear a cloth face covering when in a “community setting.” When your son is delivered to you, you should wear a mask, he should put on a mask, and be taken directly to the bathroom for some healthy handwashing and to take his temperature. There are many examples online of cloth masks made for kids, and you could either purchase or make one for him at home.
If you continue visits, don’t let him bring toys or books between households.
Dear Amy: This is a minor problem, probably, but one that many people share. Quite simply, with the COVID-19 stay-at-home directive, I am going stir-crazy!
Netflix can only take a person so far. All of my closets are clean and organized.
Any suggestions? — Stirred-up
Dear Stirred-up: Order a bird feeder and some seed. Birds are incredibly interesting, calming, and beautiful. Add a couple of flowering houseplants, and you can bring a little of the outside, inside.
Readers will have more suggestions.
Dear Amy: “George Wants Pastrami on Rye!” wrote about one colleague, “Donald,” who dominated the office by doing all the sandwich ordering, always excluding George.
This situation is not unusual. It is “high school mean girls and boys” all over again.
It was starting to happen at my own business when I hired a replacement for someone on maternity leave.
I approached the dominating “Donald” character very openly in full view of the staff, and let him know that sandwich ordering was a waste of his time.
I informed the entire staff that my assistant would now be responsible for sandwich ordering and orders need to be in by 11:30.
Problem solved — almost.
To break up the clique, I offered to pay for lunch one day a week, as long as they went somewhere, added a walk, and didn’t all go at once. This worked.
Hang in there, George. YOU are a mature human and I would hire you in a minute. (Donald’s review will not look so good.) — The Boss Sees All
Dear Boss: Well done! I’d happily work for you.